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Paul Tracy DANISON
Paris, France
Coach humanist
Interests: Human potential
Recent Activity
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Valeria Giuga, “Rockstar” © Patrick Berger – Atelier de Paris I found myself feeling slightly shamed to be clapping so hard and enthusiastically at the finish of Valeria Giuga’s clever and thoughtful dance performance Rockstar at Atelier de Paris/CDCN. Around me, too many fellow spectators showed off that peculiar form of un-enthusiasm that signals disapproval rather than, say, disappointment. The mechanics of Rockstar work well. It has all it takes and not too much of it, either. Rockstar is easy to enjoy. The Rockstar scenario, its light, music and choreography all roll out smoothly. An amorphous musical frame doubled by a soft-light visual frame supports a heavy-duty weft and warp of three danced all-time hit-parade toppers: Papa Was a Rolling Stone (The Temptations, 1972), Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode, 1989) and Fame (David Bowie, 1975). Giuga consistently creates an atmosphere that is playful and not-quite distracting, not-quite hypnotic … Come to think of it, her creation manages to evoke an emotional something very much like what rockstars create, at least the ones I’ve seen on TV… Finally, a professional in full possession, Valeria Giuga dances supremely well. If her choreography got me thinking “rockstar”, her personal style got me feeling Peter Robert Auty’s version of “Walking in the Air”. We’re floating in the moonlit sky/… I’m finding I can fly so high above with you/… Suddenly, swooping low, on ocean deep/Rousing up a mighty monster from his sleep! Resentfully, I redoubled my enthusiasm. It happens to me often enough that I don’t appreciate what those around me seem to. Also, like other people, often enough I can’t say why I can’t appreciate a perfectly well-constructed piece. The point of live work, after all, is that it’s fully and directly relational: feeling and sense before, during and after performance count. Like psychoanalysis, the underlying scenario of live performance is Life, capital L. Sullenly mulling the contrast between my enthusiasm and other spectators’ un-enthusiasm got me associating that, when I was a little boy, I also used to feel shamed that neither of my grandfathers had gone asoldiering. Feeling shamed is a fact, a natural fact, like fun. A sculptor told me with a straight face he did wood because there warn’t no metal on Tobacco Road. He then threw back his glass of sparkling wine, with feeling. I was born on Airstrip One. There shame and honor reigns. Going for a soldier was – to echo the Barry Goldwater slogan – a duty, not a choice. In those “post-war” days – before active shooter drills – cringed under my school desk, my cowardly trembling as I breathed hot and quick the air of Victory, Fire, Ash and Dust of the second world war shamed me too. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Mrs. Needoh, the fourth-grade teacher, worried aloud whether the nearby VulcanizedÒ rubber factories had adequate ack-ack. Feu my brother was shamed for telling me, That woman is crazy. Was he shamed because he spoke out of turn, said the shaming phrase... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Where, when, who for?: Adrien M. & Claire B., “Faire Corps” © Romain Etienne Until the other day I associated with the Gaïté Lyrique with music & sophisticated light and sound shows; last year, among many others, the venue featured the inimitable Alice Phoebe Lou and a fifth annual music-film festival (F.A.M.E). So it was really good to see Adrien M. & Claire B’s digitally-generated Faire Corps (“All Together”) installation – material sculpture, virtual visual, public and performance interaction, sound, music and environments. Even more through-provoking, in some ways, than the Faire Corps installation – which is proving a big attraction – was to hear Jos Auzende, Gaïté Lyrique’s artistic programmer, take the opportunity of the Faire Corps opening to clearly place “digital” in the context of culture and creative achievement. Nearly 10 years ago, the city of Paris re-inaugurated the historic Gaïté Lyrique – Jacques Offenbach was once its director and Diaghelev started his Ballets Russes there – as a “center for digital art and culture”, without, I think, knowing what that could mean. Now, Auzende seems to say, just as we all see Fantasia as the achievement of Walt Disney animators and storytellers working, say, in a “pre-empire Americanization culture”, not just as the result of applying color-film technology, so we should see that the achievement and interest in digitally generated work such Adrien M. & Claire B.’s lies not in how, but in where, when, for whom they have re-invented or appropriated digital technology to make it work. Taking a stand for cultural context as the primary lens through which to look at esthetic achievement where contemporary digital technology is involved seems to me really challenging. For music, for example, no matter how it is generated, we take the centrality of creation and culture for granted. “Digital music” means “music generated using digital technology”, not “music that is (somehow) digital”; it is indeed hard to think of any music generated in any way that is not essentially viewed and critiqued through its cultural context. But, when it comes to “digital art”, the same casual assumption of cultural primariness is not true. People do often mean “art that is digital”, dropping culture all together and identifying the creation with the technology the creators used to achieve it. A Simulation: Adrien M. & Claire B., “Organismes Typographiques” © Laurence Fragnol The tendency to squeeze creation and culture into the tool is due, partly, I think, to intense commercial promotion of digitalized stuff (saleable) and digital uses (rentable), of course. But more especially, I think, digital technology is seen to be and is presented as, a competitor to humans. Contemporary digital technology simulates human physical and mental movement: repetitive gestures such as driving or abstract processes such as judgment. Most funded digital R&D in industry and entertainment (and a lot of institutionally-funded Middle and high-brow art) turns around substituting digital technology for (saleable) movement and behaviors: slicing off and splicing up bits of recorded human movement and converting it into... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
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François de Brauer, La Loi des prodiges (ou la Réforme Goutard) © Victor Tonelli I heard on the radio that a bartender in New York has proposed clarity & truth as 2020’s watchword. Sounds good to me. You first. Ready. Set. Go! I am one of those people who smile all the time, even sleeping, even toting a machine gun. In spite of everything; the smile reflects my true feeling; I’m with Isadora Duncan, feeling is all that really counts. But neither smile nor feeling reflects what I actually think about things in the round. Once, when I cautiously let her in on one of my thinkings, my late Mother burst into tears, sobbing out, What cynicism! I was 18 then, bless me, already a soldier. My Mother was among the most fully-integrated hypocrites who ever walked Yahweh’s Stony yet Righteous path. Rightly, I believe, I took her outburst for sign and portent; a thinking is mostly better left unspoken. Lately, my thinking has been affecting my feeling. I’ve been darkly thinking, for instance, that life might very well be a play – a story, fairy tale, novel, opéra, musical comedy – in which I’ve failed to play my assigned role. Don’t get me wrong. I love narrative. But narrative is just a tool of art, an interesting wart on the clitoris that is Life. Narrative just ends up; Life becomes. That’s why the non-narrativeness of La loi des prodiges (ou la Réforme Goutard), an absorbing two-hour one-man show that I saw not long since at La Scala Paris has very nearly brought me around to renewed smilingkeit. La loi des prodiges (ou la Réforme Goutard, a veritable feat of thespian endurance and mastery, is scenarized and performed by François de Brauer, rather new to the dramatic scene but certainly upcoming. I am not sure how to translate La loi des prodiges (ou la Réforme Goutard). I can’t decide whether the prodiges are natural wonders or human prodigies. In France, a certain fetishistic pedantism means that laws get reformed rather than changed or replaced, or even dreamt up or projected. A réforme commonly carries the name of an individual guilty of proposing it, presumably so that he or she may be punished for sticking his or her neck out later, when nobody’s looking. So, the title’s all very dense, as they say, and so is the piece itself. But good dense: “with depth that entertains”. La Scala has the knack of good dense. As I write, I’m thinking of, last year, among others, Machine de cirque’s breathtaking acrobacy within an entirely different framework of dramatic success or Anne de Mey’s wonderful Cold Blood multimedia piece, also an absorbing meditation on theatrical technology and technique. François de Brauer’s La loi des prodiges strikes me as a performed graphic novel. Taking on about 20 rôles – amazingly, one never once loses sight of who is who and who’s doing what – de Brauer creates complex situations such as protagonist Rémi Goutard’s birth,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
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Detail, “Tree of Light”, OMA Space installation, Mobilier National 2019 © Jonathan Tanant Paris by bike in a time of strike… Passing by the Mobilier National warehouse, then swinging up under the elevated line... will actually shave a mile off my return journey, I pragmatically assure myself, slip the phone in my coat pocket, kick the pedal up and wobble off. The reduction of my trip by a whole mile is much easier to explain than any product discount ever will be: distance is experience and, so, also elastic. As I pedal along in my chosen city in its time of strikes, the usual nauseating taste of burnt petroleum byproduct gathering on my tongue, I am thinking that it is actually legal to make and sell and profit from whatever environmentally poisonous thing you want. Yet there are those who smirk and jeer at the naïve syllogism “distance is experience and experience is elastic”. Drôle de world, ours. In no time at all, the Mobilier National (at 1, rue Berbier du Mets) slides into view. “Tree of Light”, OMA Space © Jonathan Tanant Mobilier National keeps on keeping on, having improvised itself through changes of dynasty, epoch and régime, massacre and siege, real and farcical revolution, coups d’état, budget cutbacks and pension reform. So, now, in addition to moving around the trappings of government, it runs the renowned tapestry and rug manufactures of the Gobelins, Beauvais and the Savonnerie, along with the national lace works in Puy-en-Vélay and Alençon. And, since France has long been a very strong – maybe the strongest global player in luxuries and luxury equipment and technique – think wine or … perfume bottles or … food logistics – Mobilier National also encourages and supports innovation in textile conception and production.The agency is to France what the US federal General Services Administration’s “Department, Sub, for Furnishings, Historical” would be had GSA been founded to serve the needs of an improvised medieval court. “Notes and folds” , Amor Munoz © Jonathan Tanant Housed in one of the finest and first examples of building with concrete (with an art deco style), Mobilier National is the state agency that provides classy furnishings to institutions such as ministries or embassies. Mobilier also develops techniques and technology around art conservation and restoration. This past Fall, the innovation-support arm of the agency held its first public show of projects in hand: Prière de toucher le fil (“Please touch the thread”). In addition to a monumental staircase (in case a medieval king-equivalent shows up, I reckon), false and real walls, corridors leading through architectural terrains vagues and discrete health and safety advice, there is sturdy three-tier shelving spread over three full walls. In the tiers, often wrapped in half an acre of bubble wrap, a visitor can’t help noticing – and wandering over to take a close look – at the love seats, chairs and occasional tables of well-upholstered eras past.Since 1, rue Berbier du Mets is a working warehouse, administrative center and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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"L'Arène", from Don Quichotte de Trocadéro: Choreographer: Jose Montalvo/Performers: Sandra Mercky, Patrice Thibaud/Venue:Théâtre National de Chaillot, 2013 Monsieur Loyal commente la ballerine s’évente et pique la piste en vrille rouge banderille (MC Gayffier) – MC talktalking / ballerina / thrusting / redded blade /right through The season of giving has come and, I expect, like hatchlings blindly looking for a behavioral model, you all’ll be needing something lovely – a little brain and eye toy – to fix on in the New Year 2020. I’m glad to gift you with a glimpse of the work of live performance photographer Benoîte Fanton (www.facebook.com/BenoiteFantonPhotographies). Judging from Fall 2019 retrospective shows hosted by both Mac Créteil, choreographer and activist Mourad Merzouki’s urban dance temple in suburban Paris, and the high-brow commercial Théâtre du Rond Point on the Champs Elysées, Fanton’s dramatic images speak not only to me, Karine, and my circle of esthetically circumspect performance gourmets, but to every kind of lover of the movement arts. So it should. Fanton has specialized in capturing dance performance – photographing more than 2000 classic, modern, contemporary and urban dance shows in Paris and across France – for the last 15 years or so of her 20-year career. The photographs offered above and below are from Fanton’s retrospective collection, entitled Sur quel pied danser. I reckon Sur quel pied danser means to be in some doubt as to how to go forward. As a collection Sur quel pied danser, Fanton writes, is dedicated to the notion of holding on (with aplomb) once you, as James Brown famously implores, Get on up. Get on up, hold on: good advice for opening any year, but especially for this one which open out on to the last chance to do something serious about the climate emergency before it becomes so complexly exponential there is nothing we can do. At Fanton’s shows, and in her photo book (also titled Sur quel pied danser), each photo is accompanied by a short meditation by MC Gayffier, painter and musician and, of course, poet. Gayffier’s lines admirably take on, fit to and gel with Fanton’s pictures. I’ve interpreted rather than translated what I think of as Gayffier’s “New Parisian Loose Haiku”. In my mind, the mechanic of her writing was like that of a neo-realist painter than Zen-consciousness warrior: looking from the model to the words and back again. The interval between the focus points was where the poetry was written. I’ve tried this same imagined mechanic in my interpretative effort of Gayffier’s work, swinging my focus from her lines to my visual sense of the photo, putting down the words that result. I hope my encounter with Gayffier’s sensibility makes her work shine through for you. Get on up. Hold on. _______ Jarretière Asobi (Jeux d’adultes): Choreographer and performer: Kaori Ito, Compagnie Les Ballets C de la B/Venue: Théâtre National de Chaillot, 2014 Faire jouer La puissance du gastrocnémien medical Et l’agilité pianistique Des orteils en fleur – Play / Power of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Pierre Joseph: “Mur de mûres”, série “Photographie sans fin”, 2019: paper print. Photo: Aurélien Mole©Adagp 2019 Motivé, motivé / il faut se motiver / il faut rester motive / soyons motivé Le Chant des partisans – Zebda If every demonstration by transport unions were a revolution I’d have bought myself, or, perhaps, been served, thousands of bowls of strawberries and cream by now. The duc d’Orléans’ machinations notwithstanding, common sense tells those with ears to hear that those who have never, ever, do Révolution. No matter what the would be Révolutionaires shout, it’s more likely to be civil war than millennium. O! Empty slogan! O! Hollow Révolution! So, as I have indicated to Karine, who is lately shouting and revolutionating a lot, I do believe, as everywhere and in all times, most of what is supposed gold in all this is but cheap gilding, likely dangerously greenhouse-gas rich, too. Forget the gilded promises, I tell the woman. Turn down the heat, snuggle up close, let’s take the bike, enjoy producing less CO2, playful-like. In a time of strike, get a-pumping. Find some fun in it. Révolution! Evolve and inverse things ourselves, gather up the pearls rattling under the hooves of the swine, make that silk purse, fix up a lemonade… Etc., etc. For instance, from our house, the Palais de Tokyo – the Musée de l’art moderne de la ville de Paris – is only 23 miles, there and back. Lemonade! Tokyo’s time-stretched contemporary art exhibition Futur, ancien, fugitif, Une scène française is ongoing. Futur, fugitif turns out to turn the usual on its head. Révolution! In a way. Agreeable erotic willies flutter through the cramps as Karine and I stroll its acres. Out of the passel of really fine work on show, the exhibition itself gets the big prize. I say this ‘though I think that every single esthetic worker in the Futur, ancien, fugitif show has bottom. So much so that I can even name particular favorites right off the top of my head as I sit here: Nina Childress, Jean-Luc Blanc, Anne Le Troter, Betrand Dezoteux… … And I was deeply impressed with how Futur, fugitif’s artists have made their own the sense of the work of the “60s” made something fresh and unique from the soul of comic books, stuff and plastics… Futur, ancien, fugitif forces me to think, maybe for the first time in respect to contemporary art that there is a positive force of “tradition” that comes from experience rather than from special intention... This thought is only one of many possible thoughts Futur, ancien, fugitif gets you mulling over. Anyhow, in the image of their soulful and sensitive choices, the curators of Futur, ancien, fugitif – a team including Franck Balland, Daria de Beauvais, Adélaïde Blanc Claire Moulène and Marilou Thiébault – put together a brilliant piece of conceptual, material and contextual contemporary art. Caroline Mesquita: “Soft Evasion”, 2019: cardboard, paint. Photo: Aurélien Mole After all, stitching together a satisfyingly representative patchwork of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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“fantasia”, Ruth Childs©Marie Magnin When my boy was very little we would be walking along and he would suddenly stop dead, quivering like a pointer, point at this or that, cry “Behold”. Where he got “behold” from is a mystery. The this could be a dog with a torn ear, a pigeon with smeared rainbow in its wings, the that a gang of louts emptying a van, a woman pushing a stroller. Whatever it was, my boy was moved, really moved by it. So, we’d spend the next while looking silently and intently on, trying to penetrate the mystery of this dog’s ear, that pigeon wing or those louts, that woman. He was apprehending, as the philosophers put it, the thing of itself. He was moved by the new feeling of – realization? wonder? enchantment? before the wide world. He was pointing that unique something that I look for when I say I am looking for beauty in art. In his “behold” he was a creator. Through him I could access the emotion of experiencing a thing new in the same way that I do when I confront of work of art. The other day at the Atelier de Paris, Ruth Childs’ performance of her fantasia, a new creation, gave me a “Behold” moment, a chance to feel the emotion of witnessing something unique, made me a little boy apprehending the wide world. This sounds exceptional, I know, but it’s what she somehow does. “Somehow” because Childs’ achievement is just not entirely explainable, though, whether it is set, light, sound, costume or gesture under scrutiny, everything in her performance is in place and (consequently?) in time. And I guess timing – in its kairos sense – developing then seizing the right moment, is what brings the spectator to the edge of witness. What makes her step over the edge to witness is in the “somehow”. “fantasia”, Ruth Childs©Marie Magnin Childs’ fantasia performance re-informs Beethoven’s dramatic symphony and relights the felt-images of Disney’s gorgeous animation by situating revealing jets and swirls of educated, emotive and elegant movement between them. She catches the spectator up in alternate forms of both: as music and image, memory and moment, as image and music, moment and memory. Total command of stage/choreography support the performance. She begins stretched out in the right-hand angle of a visual triangle induced by a stack of primary-colored costumes front stage and a white heap bottom stage. The effect is to force the eye from her long, exposed thighs to her human center: to be with her as she moves and possesses the stage, possesses the music, possesses the spectators with the art of her senses. So, centering on her center, mastering the art of set, pointing here to a crash of sound, there to a wave of color, Childs somehow enables unique witness. To behold. fantasia – Dance, Performance • November 2019 • Ruth Childs • Atelier de Paris, 12-13 November 2019• Α Ruth Childs has studied in the US... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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“Midi sans paupière” by Carole Quettier, Bien Fait! 2019©Charlene Yves Lady Felice Millefeuille-Bonté, the trillionaire who’s been trying these many years to reward my good looks with a hefty check and a friendly little squeeze of the hand, seems yet again to have missed me in September and October. Then again, so absorbed was I in Jérôme Bel’s wonderful Isadora Duncan – featured by the Festival d’Automne, danced by Elizabeth Schwartz, at Centre Pompidou. Or maybe she called during the Ballet de Lorraine’s fine Histoire sans histoire(s) – a good deal more than a Merce Cunningham tribute, by the way, choreographed and arranged by Thomas Caley and Petter Jacobsson at the Palais de Chaillot … I actually shut my phone off for Machine de Cirque’s entirely different acrobat act at La Scala Paris. I may have missed her in the excitement. Just my luck, my Lady might also have been telephoning me while I was tapping up my notes about the slew of dance performance pieces at Micadanse’s Bien Fait! 2019 festival. Had she been making her bountiful calls in mid-September, then dance performances such as Carole Quettier’s Midi sans paupière, Aurélie Berland’s short Études wigmaniennes or Gaël Sesboüé’s Maintenant, oui would have had me too focused to hear them: stock still, hands-on-knees, sage comme une image, as good as a picture, totally focused as we say now. Money is everything, of course, even, maybe, especially, for these excellent performers. But I regret nothing. I never have. Quettier’s Midi sans paupière, (based on a reading of Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne), is a 30-minute demonstration of an exquisite mastery of dancing narrative. She deserved every one of her six ovations. Maintenant, oui, a true Dark Waltz, constructed around group synchrony, shone like a thousand suns, though a hair too recondite to get the strong audience recognition afforded Quettier’s Midi. Aurélie Berland’s Études wigmaniennes, part of a WIP she’s calling Les Statues meurent aussi (from filmmaker Chris Marker’s “Statues also die”), is lively and forceful. It leaves you convinced that human movement created music and that’s all ye need to know. Of course, I could have missed Lady Millefeuille’s call also during a visit to the Mobilier National, where I got to test out touch-thread Jacquard weave technology. This innovation is the fruit of a partnership of Google and Mobilier, the successful, centuries-old, state-managed administration that runs the famous Gobelin weaving operations. Or, indeed, I may have been marveling at the truly panoramic vision of French contemporary art on show at the Palais de Tokyo (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris)… Or doing some thought dancing on art history at the Musée Maillol … or, at Musée Marmottan Monet, reflecting on how classical notions of esthetics persist. I may miss Lady Millefeuille again in November and December. Unless of course she decides to join me. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Too cold for a swim, too warm for a cozy read? Do a little dance “Samsara” by Jann Gallois/cie Burnout©Agathe Poupeney Beyond words in contemporary and modern dance and performance. YVONA – Performance Theater • Creation 2019 • Elizabeth Czerzuk • 90 minutes • T.E.C., Théâtre Elizabeth Czerczuk, Paris, until 20 December 2019 • Α Choreographed performance theater featuring a cast of 22 dancers, actors and singers, Czerzuk’s most recent creation takes inspiration from Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy by Witan Gombrowicz, the story of a unattractive and uninteresting princess and a prince who revolts against his impulse to like only attractive and interesting women. Yvonne, hero of the piece, says Czerczuk, puts traditional relationship criteria to a hard test, because she lives an authentic life Ω Concept, set and choreography: Elizabeth Czerczuk / Set design scene: Anna Chadaj and Grzegorz Jasniak / Costumes : Joanna Jasko-Sroka / Music: Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, Henryk Górecki / Lighting design : Grzegorz Jasniak / Lighting: Lucas Crouxinoux / Sound: Lubin Leroy Gourhan MOVING IN CONCERT – Performance – dance • 2019 • Mette Ingvartsen • Centre Pompidou, Paris, 6-9 November, 2019 • Festival d’Automne 2019 Α Ingvartsen is especially recognized for her performances Red Pieces, 7 pleasures and 21 Pornographies, treating the human body and sexuality. With this piece she returns to her long-term focus on a world where all is animate and in intimate collaboration. It seems to me to be interesting to put her performance in parallel to Jann Gallois’ Samsara – the core concern, how do we humans connect and where is very similar. Ω Concept and choreography: Mette Ingvartsen with Christine De Smedt / Performers: Bruno Freire, Elias Girod, Gemma Higginbotham, Dolores Hulan, Jacob Ingram-Dood, Anni Koskinen, Calixto Neto, Norbert Pape, Manon Santkin / Sound: Peter Lenaerts / Lighting: Minna Tiikkainen / Costuming: Jennifer Defays / Set design: Mette Ingvartsen and Minna Tiikkainen / Dramaturgy: Bojana Cvejic / Technical director: Hans Meijer / Production assistant : Manon Haase and Joey Ng / Management of set fascias (friezes): Anja Röttgerkamp / Administration : Kerstin Schroth / Production : Great Investment vzw QUEEN BLOOD – Dance • 2019 • Ousmane Sy (a.k.a., Babson) • 60 minutes • Espace 1789, Saint-Ouen, 7-8 November 2019 • L’Embarcadère, Aubervilliers • Festival Kalypso 2019 • Α A force for dance on five continents, Ousmane Sy’s Queen Blood (La Villette, Season 2018-19) discloses the “conductor” within his “choreographer”. The all-women cast of Sy’s piece is made up of distinct individuals (so much so that I, for one, “forgot” their status as female and “remembered” their status as individuals during the performance). Sy’s choreography and directorial approach conduct rather than direct or manage the performers of his cast, solo and together. That is to say that under Sy’s “baton” each performer is a separate instrument of distinct sound and role, uncovering dance movement as body music. Ω Choreography: Ousmane Sy / Performers: Odile Lacides, Nadia Gabrieli Kalati, Nadiah Idriss, Valentina Dragotta, Cyntia Lacordelle, Stéphanie Paruta, Anaïs Imbert... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Paris Dance Performance: November - December 2019 Entangled in “Samsara” by Jann Gallois©Agathe Poupeney In November and December, Lady Felice Millefeuille-Bonté, the trillionaire débutante, will, I know, be trying to find me again to give me that check for a substantial sum. So, if one of her aides de camp reads the Paris Performance Calendar between serving her cream tea, Lady Millefeuille should know, right off the bat, that the Kalypso Festival 2019, France hip hop’s annual wave to the world, with 40 performances and 52 companies on show over 22 venues in Paris and the region, starts up in the first full week of November. Tell her I have plans for that. Also, she should know that I’ll be closely following Regard du Cygne’s Signes d’Automne program. Regard du Cygne, directed by Amy Swanson, a devotee of the divine Isadora Duncan, is a Paris where-to-go for new-creator dance performance. Over the past seven years, the Kalypso festival, a brainchild of the popular choreographer and inclusive culture warhorse Mourad Merzouki, has been promoting hip hop to dance-lovers from every horizon. I am listing four pieces. Two, Et Maintenant and Blow are new creations touching on gender issues by millennial choreographers Léa Latour and Karim Khouader, and a third, Queen Blood, a masterful demonstration of feminine performance by the celebrated choreographer Ousmane Sy (a.k.a. Babson) and his cie Paradox Sal. The fourth is a piece by the well-known “fusion” choreographer Amala Dianor, The Falling Stardust. All four touch on our times from a cultured but “non-elite” perspective that I think gives a sense of the depth and seriousness of the work being done by performers who use hip-hop as their launch point. The venues are easy access for short-term stayers. Attentive to entertainment in “Allegria” by Kader Attou©Justine Jugnet Thoughtfulness is not the exclusive domain of hip-hop. There’s, too, Jann Gallois’ première of her new piece, Samsara, “cycle of being”, at the Palais de Chaillot running into mid-November. Samsara is part of what I see as Gallois’ continuing study of how we humans move together, maybe of how close we really are; she’s gone to the trouble of elaborating her set to enhance the closeness of her performers and has been communicating about it. At the same time, at Centre Pompidou, Mette Ingvartsen’s Moving in Concert is dealing with a similar theme from another angle, imagining a world where the natural world, technology and humans together create the flow of being through luminous thought. Ingvartsen’s idea, like Gallois’, attracts me. I will also be attending double-header performances at the Théâtre de la Bastille. The bit I'm looking most forward to is Loïc Touze’s “Form Simple”, made up of Elucidations, a danced seminar, and the Goldberg Variations. Elucidations requires a good command of French for full enjoyment, but I think Touzé’s dramatic body elegance even so puts the seminar beyond the harm of words, especially as it is accompanied by Variations, well-spun around Bach’s piece. The Bastille program also includes Daniel Linehan’s... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Too cold for a swim, too warm for a cozy read? Do a little dance “Samsara” by Jann Gallois/cie Burnout©Agathe Poupeney Twenty contemporary and modern dance and performance offers in Paris, late Autumn 2019. Paris Performance Calendar is a work-in-progress “dance syllabus”, a “to-see agenda” of dance performance complemented by essays and articles about esthetics, creation and creativity along with interviews of creators and performers in The Best American Poetry and other publications. YVONA – Performance Theater • Creation 2019 • Elizabeth Czerzuk • 90 minutes • T.E.C., Théâtre Elizabeth Czerczuk, Paris, until 20 December 2019 • Α Choreographed performance theater featuring a cast of 22 dancers, actors and singers, Czerzuk’s most recent creation takes inspiration from Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy by Witan Gombrowicz, the story of a unattractive and uninteresting princess and a prince who revolts against his impulse to like only attractive and interesting women. Yvonne, hero of the piece, says Czerczuk, puts traditional relationship criteria to a hard test, because she lives an authentic life Ω Concept, set and choreography: Elizabeth Czerczuk / Set design scene: Anna Chadaj and Grzegorz Jasniak / Costumes : Joanna Jasko-Sroka / Music: Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, Henryk Górecki / Lighting design : Grzegorz Jasniak / Lighting: Lucas Crouxinoux / Sound: Lubin Leroy Gourhan MOVING IN CONCERT – Performance – dance • 2019 • Mette Ingvartsen • Centre Pompidou, Paris, 6-9 November, 2019 • Festival d’Automne 2019 Α Ingvartsen is especially recognized for her performances Red Pieces, 7 pleasures and 21 Pornographies, treating the human body and sexuality. With this piece she returns to her long-term focus on a world where all is animate and in intimate collaboration. It seems to me to be interesting to put her performance in parallel to Jann Gallois’ Samsara – the core concern, how do we humans connect and where is very similar. Ω Concept and choreography: Mette Ingvartsen with Christine De Smedt / Performers: Bruno Freire, Elias Girod, Gemma Higginbotham, Dolores Hulan, Jacob Ingram-Dood, Anni Koskinen, Calixto Neto, Norbert Pape, Manon Santkin / Sound: Peter Lenaerts / Lighting: Minna Tiikkainen / Costuming: Jennifer Defays / Set design: Mette Ingvartsen and Minna Tiikkainen / Dramaturgy: Bojana Cvejic / Technical director: Hans Meijer / Production assistant : Manon Haase and Joey Ng / Management of set fascias (friezes): Anja Röttgerkamp / Administration : Kerstin Schroth / Production : Great Investment vzw QUEEN BLOOD – Dance • 2019 • Ousmane Sy (a.k.a., Babson) • 60 minutes • Espace 1789, Saint-Ouen, 7-8 November 2019 • L’Embarcadère, Aubervilliers • Festival Kalypso 2019 • Α A force for dance on five continents, Ousmane Sy’s Queen Blood (La Villette, Season 2018-19) discloses the “conductor” within his “choreographer”. The all-women cast of Sy’s piece is made up of distinct individuals (so much so that I, for one, “forgot” their status as female and “remembered” their status as individuals during the performance). Sy’s choreography and directorial approach conduct rather than direct or manage the performers of his cast, solo and together. That is to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Machine de Cirque, quantum acrobacy with gemütlichkeit ©Loup-William Théberge Imagine the Marx Brothers endowed with Buster Keaton’s naïve humor, tutored under Zen discipline by Cirque du Soleil’s best acrobats. You have pretty much imagined Machine de Cirque – acrobatic performers Raphaël Dubé, Yohann Trépanier, Ugo Dario, Maxim Laurin and Frédéric Lebrasseur – a circus company from Québec, currently at La Scala Paris. Machine is funny, sweet, strong, skilled, focused. Especially, it’s subtly exciting: perfomer leaps, twists, bounds, tricks and turns consistently touch the limits of possibility, play out where luck and ability meet in fluctuating proportions. Machine de cirque is, as Monty Python once put it, “something entirely different”. Maybe they’ve invented quantum acrobatics. Anyhow, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Witty and complicit like the Marx Brothers: like cows in the presence of a particularly well-endowed bull, we adults nervously pawed and snorted from the beginning to the end of the show. Like Buster Keaton, boyishly joyous and plain sympathique: the gurgly, delighted laughter of the children in the audience filled the air as these five big boys mimed silly suavity with girls, played with the nakedness taboo and good-naturedly whacked each other for the hell of it. Skilled like Cirque du Soleil under Zen discipline: there is, I think, some talent and mental discipline involved in holding sideways by the soles of one’s feet. I mean, what kind of force is required to stand, literally, horizontal, like a flag stretched in the wind? Frédéric Lebrasseur, the troupe’s drummer-musician-clown, opens the show by slapping up a beat. He uses the beat as a lion tamer might use a whip butt and hoop: to keep his charges grouped and circulating in rhythm, marking territory. Acrobats Dubé, Trépanier, Dario and Laurin prowl around a tall center-stage scaffold-like construction that is drawn forward enough that it narrows stage front to the 50- or 60-foot square rectangle that they mark as performance. Hanging above them are North America’s mantraps: slack wires, insulators, pipes, poles and rails and wheels and planks. Machine de Cirque, something entirely different with skits for the kids in us ©Loup-William Théberge Because performers are elbow to elbow, because a spectator sees everyone moving together in the same straitened space, because of the performers’ energy and concentration, the crowding transforms such fairly standard acrobatic feats as bat juggling or mounting a high-seated unicycle into rather tense drama. Machine de cirque’s derring-do, boyish joyousness, charm, Zen-strength skill and mastery of drama are not however what makes it entirely different. It’s the troupers’ interpersonal trust and solidarity that does that. Other acts strive to perfect execution of the just-possible – to get to the “ooohhh-aaahhh point”. Most circus acrobats, I expect, let go of the trapeze wondering, “Have I got the trick right?”. Machine de Cirque’s acrobats, on the other hand, strive for the – “Holy-Cats! point”. As one of them launches roof-ward, I expect he wonders, “Is it the right moment for this?” That’s because, at the point where the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Petter Jacobsson/Thomas Caley, “For Four Walls”, Ballet de Lorraine 2019©Laurent Philippe Histoires sans histoire(s) is an intercalation of Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley’s For Four Walls and Merce Cunnigham’s Fabrications and Sounddance, staged at the Théâtre National de la Danse (Palais de Chaillot) as part of the Festival d’Automne’s celebration of the centenary of the celebrated choreographer’s birth. Jacobsson and Calley are co-directors of the Ballet de Lorraine. Whatever Fabrications and Sounddance may say about Cunningham’s genius, Histoires certainly is (yet another) proof of the Ballet de Lorraine’s excellence as re-creator of old stories and creator of new ones. For Four Walls opens the old story: Fabrications and Sounddance follow. With 24 performers dancing within mirrors that double and triple or quadruple movement, with pianist Vanessa Wagner perched over a single grand set two-thirds off-center stage flawlessly executing John Cage’s pure chord within a single sound, the company re-creates the “lost” content of Cunningham’s Four Walls, creating Histoires sans histoire(s). They put up a mirror where by looking straight ahead onlookers also see what is behind. Merce Cunningham, “Fabrications, Ballet de Lorraine 2019©Bernard Prudhomme The arrangement makes Histoires work visually and psychically as a palimpsest does, showing everything all at once but also as single units, as if each thing were written on distinct, separated surface. Just as with a palimpsest, despite a saturation of apparently random positions of words and ideas, the eye and brain always know where they are as the spirit explores the potentials. In the mirror Histoires holds up, I saw that the recursive palimpsest of Fabrications and the chaotic sensuality of Sounddance are not meant only as a questioning of dance forms. They are also as a statement of physical or psychic truth. And looking in the mirror provided by Jacobsson and Caley, I could see and feel the newness that is Cunningham play out. I could see how he empowered me as onlooker to create or “find” for myself the infinite filigrees of sense in the art of human movement: to create my personal palimpsest of Cunningham's famous 64 underlying figures (by coincidence the same number of underlying figures as the I Ching). Merce Cunningham, “Sounddance”, Ballet de Lorraine 2019©Laurent Philippe And, as the remarkably talented dance performers of the Ballet de Lorraine in the mirror before me sprang for themselves, sprang for and with each other, moved apart from and towards, through, to, one another, sprang inside themselves, as I gave these doubling men and women a pattern, as they gave each other and themselves a pattern, I felt absolutely certain that “random”, “recursion”, “synchronicity”, “dissociation”, “association”, “coincidence” are all the same damned thing, all as solidly linked and as eternally true as any reality that I can kick. I swear that I texted that to a friend while still sitting gazing at the empty stage where Histoires sans histoires had been. Histoires sans histoire(s), was created as part of the Festival d’Automne 2019 Merce Cunningham Centenary celebration and produced jointly by the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Katinka Bock, not titled©Pierre Antoine / Lafayette Anticipations, Paris Katinka Bock’s Tumulte à Higienopolis currently at Lafayette Anticipations is a more than successful marriage of exhibition space and esthetic intelligence. The lines and light of the Anticipations’ space are a perfect medium for the unmoving movement that animates Bock’s sculptures. Katinka Bock, Rauschen©Pierre Antoine / Lafayette Anticipations, Paris “Rauschen”, a gaping, colorful and vertically anchored monumental bulge suspended through the center of the building, could be a conch shell, a blanket enfolding a child or a vortex. This remarkable piece visually emphasizes the up-down or side-to-side positioning of the other works on display. Katinka Bock, Gisant©Pierre Antoine / Lafayette Anticipations, Paris These include, among other strongly-crafted pieces sown over three floors, a field of naturalistic brass cactus, thick "rugs" (not titled) on a "clothesline", a covered reclining effigy ("Gisant") in pointy shoes and an overstuffed pincushion: the cacti strain up, the rugs flap, the effigy lays, the pincushion is pinned. Katinka Bock, brass cactus©Pierre Antoine / Lafayette Anticipations, Paris Karine, my companion, remarks that Bock’s works remind her that movement (mouvement) is not necessarily displacement (bouger). She’s right. At Tumulte, where Bock’s hand touches, it points the “quantum” view, where fixed and solid, flux and flow are part of the same moment, if not of the same perceptual choice. See Katinka Bock's work live if you can. Katinka Bock’s Tumulte à Higienopolis continues at Lafayette Anticipations until 5 January 2020 Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Rene Rimbert, "Nature morte au jeu de cartes"©Musée Maillol, Paris Two lovely and intriguing painting exhibitions ongoing at Musée Maillol and Musée Marmottan Monet offer more than their titles suggest. Les Grands maîtres naïfs: du douanier rousseau à Séraphine at Musée Maillol debunks the notion of “naïf (primitive)” and does a great job of showing color, shape, form in daily life in France 1920-1940 by outsider painters. Mondrian Figuratif at Marmottan Monet uses some lovely figurative painting to anchor a well-made walk-through of Piet Mondrian’s painterly quest for Beauty. Piet Mondrian, "Crépuscule", 1906 © Kunstmuseum Den Haag The thing one learns from Les Grands maîtres naïfs is that modern primitive painting applies not to style but to painters who didn’t attend official art schools. Whether the subject is the outside or “natural” world, food or male desire, the Grands maîtres in question paint “what they see and what it feels like”. André Bauchant, "L'Hibou" © Ewald Graber © Adagio, Paris 2019 What they see becomes visual lyric: intimate, even indiscrete, warm, colorful. Visitors will enjoy the little irony of tourist-targeted views of Montmartre by these often commercially struggling artists as well bigger and more recondite ironies such as Dominique Peyronnet’s slipping of the iconic La Femme à la Perle into the sharp symmetry of a modern urban landscape. Camille Bombois, "Nu de face" Courtesy Fondation Dina Vierny © Adagio, Paris And there’s plenty more work by these marginal maîtres that just enables the eye to enjoy while the mind wanders: feathery flower bouquets by Séraphine Louis (which put me in mind of Shaker prints, even Jung drawings), Le Douanier Rousseau’s powerfully-imagined “exotic natural” scenes (which put me in mind of William Blake prints), René Rimbert’s bistro-inspired still lifes (which brought Cezanne’s to mind), the graded colors and perspectives of sea- and landscapes by André Bauchant and Ferdinand Desnos, or Camille Bombois’ good-tempered almost-porn. "Le Douanier" Henri Rousseau, "Deux lions à l'affût dans la jungle" © Archives de l'Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo And if Grands maîtres naïfs puts pay to the notion that modern “primitive” painting is anything more than a nasty little kick against painters of “marginal” social origins, Mondrian Figuratif puts in doubt the “Father of abstraction”’s parental role in that particular style. Piet Mondrian, "Composition avec large plan rouge, jaune, noir, gris et bleu ", 1921 © Kunstmuseum Den Haag Marmottan Monet’s exhibition in fact highlights Mondrian’s personal spiritual quest for beauty. I mean “Beauty”in a Neo-Platonic, 19th-century sense, with a capital B, the one that was supposed to exist with Love and Truth at the core of the universe and Christian society. “Mondrian figuratif”’s walk-through arrangement makes the visual case that painter Mondrian knows in his heart, like poet Keats, that Truth is Beauty and Beauty is Truth. This puts a lot of water between him and a painter like a Picasso, or Jasper John’s who knows who else in the modern era whose search is mostly for new and satisfactory expressive style(s). Piet Mondrian, "Moulin... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Translingual poet Cia Rinne has won the 2019 Prix Bernard Heidsieck for work on the living word awarded during the annual Extra! literary festival©Hervé Veronese/Centre Pompidou Maybe poets and literati should take a leaf from the libertine meet-up sites and start organizing everything according to preference group. Under a preference topic, say, sadomasochism, a libertine can access a wide range of apparently unrelated interests, say, voyeurism, spanking and humiliation. Libertines thus stay both focused and expansive, free to experiment. Access and experimentation are very important for poets and literati, too. The preference group idea came to me when I visited the third annual Extra! “living literature” festival at Centre Pompidou. Created in 2017, Extra! features the visual and sound aspects of literary endeavor. It suddenly became clear, to me, anyway, that the genre called “literature” is about viable and useful a guiding descriptive as gender is for human beings and that a move to a preference group system is imperative. The people participating in Extra! all seemed to have a marked preference for words, a preference shared by a wide range of people, including Poetical and just plain people who like to read a lot. So, under a preference group approach, word would take the place of literary. Extra! becomes a “living word” festival, with literature, performance and installations as specific festival offers. Extra! outre-tombe installation: participants learn to manage author-provocateur Michel Houellebecq’s future legacy©Hervé Veronese/Centre Pompidou With activities over several days in different locations around central Paris, the opening night of this new an intriguing annual living word festival at Centre Pompidou featured, among other installations and events, English-using poet Alain Arias Mission’s 60s era happenings around “concrete poetry”. The poet uses physical typography, (meta)political urban topography and partly spontaneous performance for effect. Mission’s show reminded me that “happenings” and “situation” are playing a strong part in dance performance creation these days. Last June, for instance, choreographer Joanne Leighton situated a valedictory dance performance at the Musée de l’immigration to point the issue of rising anti-enlightenment political views; Nina Santes, who took up the residence at the Atelier de Paris that Leighton was capping with her in situ performance, creates or is searching to create (interactive) performance from the happening formats that opened out in the 60s, the time when Mission, among others, was bringing out situational, public, spontaneous poetry. Mission’s concrete poetry exhibit was in echo with a hilariously cynical interactive game involving managing author-provocateur Michel Houellebecq’s future literary legacy, along with a projected compilation of iconic film images and talk-show-format discussions. Extra! organizers capped the evening with the award of the Prix Bernard Heidsieck to polyglot sound and translingual poet Cia Rinne. Rinne has linguistic feet in Sweden, Finland and Germany, as well as in her translingual poetry, which, she told me, was suggested by ordinary conversation in the multilingual household where she grew up. Just as Nina Santes’ work reverberates with energies inherited from happenings, Rinne’s work winds around and binds together concepts exemplified by sound-tech... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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The building-artist points intersections and possibilities: Hella Jongerius “Interlace” exposition 2019 ©Roel van Tour / Lafayette Anticipations, Paris And I've been running away from the wise man in my head And he says, go, go, go, go get lost in the wind And I've been hearing some whispers on the wind And they say, run, run, run, run away for your sins Don't leave that fiery mind behind/ Take it along for the ride Don't leave that fiery mind behind/ Take it along for the ride “Fiery Heart, Fiery Mind”, Alice Phoebe Lou Physical space and cultural project make Lafayette Anticipations distinct as an institution. Lodged in a building designed by the architect Rem Koolhaas, Anticipations enjoys a pretty-much entirely modular interior space. As a project, the institution explicitly links art, industry and technology in culture production. Anticipations’ unique interior space practically calls up new visions of live performance; its exhibitions of themselves provoke – without provocation – conversation on where, how, by whom, with and for what culture is produced. Opened to the public only in 2018 and blessed with its distinct potentialities in space and concept, Anticipations development as an institution is also an opportunity to look at how original intentions and potential can be deployed though time. The opportunity to observe is why the appointment of Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel as managing director, seconding its founder president Guillaume Houzé, caught my eye. Lamarche-Vadel is 32, Houzé, 38. Lamarche-Vadel is said to have a strong interest in presentation and arrangement of culture production. The Anticipations’ building is a work of art in a way that no building I can think of is, so the first thing to think about is: How interior space potential is understood in respect to fixed physical plant? In other words: What is the tail, what is the dog, the space potential or plant configuration? Then the question is: How is this understanding to be kneaded into Anticipations’ live performances and exhibitions? A Penelope Contemporary: at a 3D loom, from Hella Jongerius' “Interlace” exposition 2019 ©Roel van Tour/Lafayette Anticipations, Paris Anticipation’s season-opening dance performance program Echelle Humaine makes me think that, as a work of art, the architecture immediately makes a single unit of “performer-performance-space”. This is because, in much the same way as certain contemporary movement artists seem to be pushing performers to localize within themselves not just performance but also place, Anticipations’ art-architecture strains to make itself performance and performer as well as place/space potential. Anticipations’ art-architecture is like a choreographer: it’s not enough to hold a show there – there has to be the “show” and “show” has to be there. I’m thinking here of how such artists as Joanne Leighton shape perceived space by the potentials of movement or of how performers such as Bruno Canteteau shape-themselves-into-things-in-space-into-movement-into-poetry. So, for me, until they tear the building down, Anticipations’ creative challenge will be to align, synthesize, the building-as-choreographer (or artist) with what goes on within it – a challenge that, it seems to me,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker talks through "Violin Fase", Lafayette Anticipations 2018 © Tracy Danison Over the next couple of months I would like to report True News on creators and performances worth looking out for. A concept for a True News Mechanism came to me during the most recent unprecedented heat wave. An individual whispers his or her sensory experience into the True News Mechanism’s reception trumpet. True News processors use the same COBOL X12-49A algorithm that enabled Jesus a smooth resurrection. Forty acres of glistening brass tubes offer honest whisperers designer glimpses of those dark gears that grind toward the True. Mechanism engineers heave suspect fabulators into the relentless mesh. There they go from being parts of the problem to being parts of the solution. Metaphorically speaking, Hang Huang, who runs the English-language dance and travel blog DanceVisa, Catherine Zavodska, a culture influencer who heads up DanseAujourdhui, a dance-appreciation community that offers culture-oriented events and tourism, along with myself are the first persons to whisper into the Mechanism. Catherine and Hang have a deep and abiding love for dance performance. Hang seems always to see where a performance is coming from, has the knack of seeing where the depths and weights of a performance lie. Catherine has more useful knowledge about dance than I could ever hope for; she always knows how to measure creative effort and execution. With the aid of Catherine and Hang, the Mechanism and myself can report its first eight bits of True News from dance performance: eight well-loved pieces from the Paris Season 2018-2019. These include Ohad Naharin’s Decadance, performed at the Opéra Garnier, Ousmane Sy’s Queen Blood, performed at La Villette last Winter; Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun, performed at the at the Opéra Garnier last Fall; Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s Violin Fase, her initiation piece revolving around Steve Reich’s music of the same name, danced by Yuika Hashimoto, renewed last Fall at Lafayette Anticipations; Oona Doherty’s Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer at Atelier de Paris in Spring 2019; and Damien Jalet’s Vessel, also last Spring; Noé Soulier’s exceptionally moving, almost-baroque Les Vagues, produced at the Palais de Chaillot last Fall; and Crystal Pite’s Season’s Canon, equally last Fall at Opéra Garnier. Catherine Zavodska and I both well-loved Cherkaoui’s [Après-midi d’un] Faun[e]. The piece got me thinking about how Maurice Béjart and Rammallzee (‘The rhythm [dance] that breaks’) find shared culture space, but Catherine saw an orgasm in it. She is surely closer to Nijinksky’s intention. Her idea is that Cherkaoui has a talent for working performance “movement” from the ground up (as in break-dancing) then pushing it beyond “choreography” to discover (experience the unknown of), or uncover (experience beyond), a “real thing”, in which the performance is a visual, physical and emotional meeting point of spectator and creator intention. Oona Doherty dis-covers a new continent of emotion in Northern Ireland © OonaDoherty The Mechanism has identified four, including Faun, of the eight well-beloved pieces as visual, physical and emotional real... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Jan Martens, Sweet Baby Sweet © Klaartje Lambechts If you’re a trillionaire trying to reward my good looks with a hefty check, in September and October you’re likely to find me at one and the other of the dance and performance pieces in the Paris Performance Calendar, hands on knees, attentive to doings on the stage. The federative performance arts Festival d’Automne and big, or dance performance-dedicated, institutions such as the Théâtre National (Palais) de Chaillot or Micadanses always offer a good range of dance performance as a new season opens. Most, if not all of my September and October picks are taken from such 2019-2020 Season calendars. Through to December, there’s Festival d’Automne’s celebration of Merce Cunningham’s contribution to modern dance. This makes for a prime opportunity to see France’s excellent provincial ballets strut their excellent stuff. There is an instructive bent in the offer and with it an opportunity to brush up on the principles of modern and contemporary dance as you enjoy the dancing. My head has highlighted intriguing retrospective work by the well-known choreographers Jérôme Bel and Philippe Decouflé. Without ignoring such emotion-masters as Saburo Teshigawara performing things like Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (recommended by DanseAujourdhui’s Catherine Zavodska, at the Philharmonie de Paris) or the erotic tension of Jan Martens’ Sweat Baby Sweat, my heart has chosen creation by artists whose esthetic power I admire, including Yasmine Hugonnet, Myriam Gourfink and Latifa Laâbissi or such artists as Florence Casenave, Carole Quettier or Nina Vallon, whose work I have not yet seen but whose performance ideas tease my esthetics. Vallon, along with Aurelie Berland, among others, are movement artists whose work makes up a really intriguing offer of new creation riding classical music and choreographies for Micadanse’s Bien Fait! 2019 program. Jan Martens’ Sweat Baby Sweat and the playful exploration of Yasmine Hugonnet’s Se Sentir Vivant both feature in Lafayette Anticipations’ Echelle Humaine 2019 program. This contrast of approach reminds me that Echelle Humaine is both quality live performance and a visual treatise on how movement creates or shapes physical space – and vice-versa. Yasmine Hugonnet, Se sentir vivant, 2017© Anne-Laure Lechat Again in the spatio-human vein, the very talented saxophone-clarinet-piano guy Antonin Tri Hoang and 12 musical companions will be turning the vast volumes of Saint Eustache’s Ship-to-Heaven architecture into a jazz soundbox. The performance will also provide a good moment to explore the old Halles parish church, far more of a conscious work of art than Notre Dame and which harbors Raymond Mason’s 1971 Le départ des fruits et légumes du coeur de Paris, le 28 février 1969 (“The Departure of Fruit and Vegetables from the Heart of Paris”) sculpture in a side chapel. Looking past the September-October listing, Paris’ performance offer for November and December is easily as solid but also perhaps more esthetically intriguing than that of September-October. I’m thinking here not just of the ongoing Festival d’Automne program (lots of performance from La Ribot as well as dance from Merce Cunningham), but also... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Paris Performance Agenda is a work-in-progress “dance syllabus”, a “to-see agenda” of dance performance complemented by essays and articles about esthetics, creation and creativity along with interviews of creators and performers in The Best American Poetry and other publications. For the beginning of the Season 2019-2020, my head has highlighted... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2019 at PARIS PERFORMANCE AGENDA
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Paris Performance Calendar is a work-in-progress “dance syllabus”, a “to-see agenda” of dance performance complemented by essays and articles about esthetics, creation and creativity along with interviews of creators and performers in The Best American Poetry and other publications. For the beginning of the Season 2019-2020, my head has highlighted intriguing retrospective work by the well-known choreographers Jérôme Bel and Philippe Decouflé. Without ignoring such emotion-rallyers as Saburo Teshigawara performing things like Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (recommended by DanseAujourdhui’s Catherine Zavodska, at the Philharmonie de Paris) or Jan Martens’ erotically tense Sweat Baby Sweat, my heart has chosen creation by artists whose esthetic power I admire, including Yasmine Hugonnet, Myriam Gourfink and Latifa Laâbissi or such artists as Florence Casenave, Aurélie Berland, Carole Quettier or Nina Vallon, whose performance ideas tease my esthetics. Work by Vallon, along with Aurelie Berland, among others, makes up the really intriguing offer of new creation riding classical music and choreographies for Micadanse’s Bien Fait! 2019 program. The tense emotion of Jan Martens’ Sweat Baby Sweat and the playful exploration of Yasmine Hugonnet’s Se Sentir Vivant both feature in Lafayette Anticipations’ Echelle Humaine 2019 program. DANCE, PERFORMANCES & CREATORS TO LOOK FOR, PARIS RENTREE 2019 Les Traversées du Marais 2019: Voyages spatio-temporels – Performance & Dance • 2019 • Les Castellers de Paris & Bruno Benne • Micadanses, 15, 16 & 20 rue Geoffroy l'Asnier 75004 Paris, 8 September 2019: three Voyages of between 20 - 40 minutes from 15h to 17h30 • Bien Fait! 2019 dance festival • Α Les Castellers de Paris are acrobats and dancers using traditional dance and performance in modern contexts. This Voyage in space and time includes a street-side acrobatic “castlebuilding” show based on a Catalonian tradition recognized as part of our universal cultural heritage by the UN, followed by Baroque-era dancing and music. infini – Dance performance • 2019 • Boris Charmatz • 60 minutes • Théâtre de la Ville - Espace Cardin, Paris, 10-14 September, 20.30h • Festival d’Automne 2019 • Α Premiered this past June at the Montepellier Dance Festival, the choreographer continues his always fascinating and generally successful modus operandi of using dance-movement to perform complex themes. Infini explores gesture and symbolic effect through dance, sound and numbers. In addition to hisperformance will be using young performers drawn from suburban dance conservatories where they have been working with Charmatz on a piece called Levée des conflits, an attempt create total (unbroken) movement. Ω Choreography: Boris Charmatz / Performers: Régis Badel, Boris Charmatz, Raphaëlle Delaunay, Maud Le Pladec, Tatiana Julien (alternately), Fabrice Mazliah, and Solène Wachter / Vocal work: Dalila Khatir / Sound: Olivier Renouf / Lighting: Yves Godin / Costumes: Jean-Paul Lespagnard / Produced: cie Terrain TRACES – Performance dance • Creation • 20 minutes • Eva Klimackova • Micadanses, 15, 16 & 20 rue Geoffroy l'Asnier 75004 Paris, 16 September 2019, 20h, along with Midi sans paupière by Carole Quettier • Bien Fait! 2019 dance festival • Α Traces uses dance movement to explore how... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Catherine Diverrès, “Jour et nuit”NicholasJoubert Paris is surely a bit above the best when it comes to fostering and presenting creative, innovative, art-quality, live dance and performance, including circus. But, what with Paris lately as hot and dry as Sana’a, Yemen, I have been a little slow to act on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2019 at PARIS PERFORMANCE AGENDA
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Catherine Diverrès, “Jour et nuit”NicholasJoubert Paris is surely a bit above the best when it comes to fostering and presenting creative, innovative, art-quality, live dance and performance, including circus. But, what with Paris lately as hot and dry as Sana’a, Yemen, I have been a little slow to act on getting True Dance News out to the English-speaking world. I’ve been wanting to put up a series of short, sweet articles on watch-for performers and performances such as Catherine Diverrès’ remarkable Jour et nuit, her latest piece, which I discovered during the Faits d’Hiver Winter 2019 festival. A reprise of a later work, equally smashing stuff, Blow the bloody doors off… figured at the Théâtre Nationale (Palais) de Chaillot in Spring… In between, there was work by Liz Santoro, Sylvère Lamotte, Nina Santes, Nathalie Béasse, Vincent Thomasset, Mats Ek and many others at Atelier de Paris’ June Events and Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales… Diverrès, among others, is a veteran of the scene but there are scads of accessible, practicing newer talents, too, such as Marie Desoubeaux, to mention only one, who debuted her fine dance-performance Rester (Stay) in April at Le Regard du Cygne, a devotedly contemporary dance performance theater in Belleville. So, there’s plenty of movement art to write about. Stillness But even innovative, art-quality, live dance and performance suffer from This weather! Like most ordinary Parisians, like most ordinary Sana’a-ites, I expect, I have no air conditioning. The cost-benefit ratio has never added up for me or them. With actual waves of killing-heat, though, the ratio might change, ‘though maybe we can all just go stand under those giant white windmills that seem to run along the national tollways. That couldn’t be expensive, could it? While we’re all calculating, however, the trick with a heat wave, in French called a canicule, just as in Sana’a, is to keep still in a shuttered-up apartment. The word for keeping still like this is se terrer – “go to ground” – like rabbits or scorpions or slugs. Close the shutters a few minutes before the sun pokes its angry mug over the horizon. Don’t open them again till that mug has slunk well under it. Take only body-temperature liquids (‘though lovemaking is obviously out of the question at these temperatures). Keep quiet. Move slow, mon lapin, lentement, shhh! Poppies at 107°F July 2019 Sauliac-sur-Célé France©TracyDanison Stillness, anger Unlike typing or lovemaking, moderate reading or listening to the radio, in principle, doesn’t generate (much) heat, so I’ve been listening in the silence. The big news has been public philosopher Michel Onfray’s snarling ad girlem against Greta Thunberg, a latter-day incarnation of the unsinkable Pipi Longstocking, a school kid from Sweden who has instigated the school-strike-for-climate-initiative. She goes around, Pipi Longstocking-style, free as a bird, stirring up fuss and bother about human extinction and suchlike. Although Michel Onfray has otherwise often had interesting things to say, the other day he called Thunberg a “Swedish cyborg” whose knowledge base is only what has bled into... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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"Näss(Folks)"FouadBoussouf©AtelierdeParis/JuneEvents2019 Programmed into the heart of Atelier de Paris’ June Events 2019, performed by a hard-charging masculine septet, with strong rhythms and rocking-rolling-breaking solo, duo and group performances, Fouad Boussouf’s Näss (Folks) closed the festival Printemps de la danse Arabe#1, which began in March. I thought of it at first as a deliberate dance counterpoint to a performance-heavy June Events 2019 offer. It seems to me now that Näss wasn’t so much a counterpoint as a pointer toward a nearly completed transition of multiple dance and performance styles, traditions and approach to dance. The CCN Ballet de Lorraine’s intensely moving performance of Thomas Hauert’s Flot (2018), which closed June Events sums up my thought. The troupe danced a ballet around ten Waltz Suites from Serge Prokofiev without a single – as far as I could see – classically inspired movement. On the contrary, the choreography seems to splurge on – and performers enjoy to the hilt – that play of almost clumsy disequilibrium and exquisitely defined balance that so often makes contemporary performance so visually interesting. It was ballet – we onlookers felt it as ballet – … But maybe my thought should trump the collective feeling. I will say precisely, Flot is dance that references historical ballet; Flot is not contemporary-style ballet. Maybe this will be true for all ballet from here on out. "Näss(Folks)"FouadBoussouf©AtelierdeParis/JuneEvents2019 Feeling hip-hop as much as a social origin as a performance style, Boussouf says he co-evolves his native Moroccan dance-culture with the socio-emotive power of hip-hop and the athletic esthetic vision of Nouveau cirque to create “urban dance”. He addresses his choreographies – including Näss (Folks) – to what he believes a universal quest for “elsewhere”. The audience at the Atelier de Paris, not by any means second-generation immigrant kids, seems to have been suitably transported: Näss got five ovations – as good as Crystal Pite’s The Season’s Canon at the Opéra Garnier in Spring 2018, as good as Noé Soulier’s Les Vagues (From Within) at Palais de Chaillot last Fall, as good as Hauert’s Flot at the Aquarium last week. The spectator response says something and for the same reason: if Näss references hip-hop; if Canon references historical modern ballet; if Les Vagues references historical modern performance; if Flot references historical ballet dance, and cetera, spectators see them all as dance, a unified art of movement that must be good movement, whatever the choreographic references. I wonder if this seeming shift in the way audiences and choreographers and programmers perceive dance – “the old quarrels are dead” is what it comes down to – isn’t an outlier of of shifted perceptions elsewhere? NÄSS (Folks) - dance • 2018 • Fouad Boussouf - Cie Massala • 60 minutes • Théâtre de l’Aquarium, Cartoucherie, 5 June, 21h, • June Events 2019 /Printemps de la danse Arabe#1/Institut du monde arabe FLOT - dance • 2018 • Thomas Hauert – CCN Ballet de Lorraine • minutes • Théâtre de l’Aquarium, Cartoucherie, 15 June, 21h, • June Events... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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”Soufflette”FrançoisChaignaud-CarteBlanche©HelgeHansen.jpg I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style / And so I came to see him …/ He’d found my letters and read each one out loud…/ Telling my whole life … / Killing me softly … – Killing me Softly with His Song, Roberta Flack (1973) François Chaignaud’s dance performance Soufflette – that's “slap”, “blister” – whatever he means… I got there, but late. Hurried into a blackness so complete I was sure a misstep would be the very first of my final, inevitable, long, painful plunge into Hell. I dove into the first seat my hand could claw out of the obscurity, threw myself in, sat up straight as a prairie dog, hands on knees, and looked down on a flower-bedecked, human-crowded stage bathed in very bright white light. What I was expecting as I sat attentive was something humorless: between a ribald take off on a Mafia funeral and a winking, nodding, transvestite Black Mass – “Camp”. But what Soufflette gave me was a brilliant, delicate, meta-portrait of visual and symbolic transgression. Through a Stonewall prequel. In the bar just after the show, my friend Wan, whose gentle machinations had somehow overcome my firm intention not to see Chaignaud’s latest offering, asked me, cute little moon-face actually shiny with pleasure, if, after all, Soufflette wasn’t one of those sacred masses I’ve been on about lately? Soufflette’s performance success is thanks in no small part to the Zen-master capacity of Carte Blanche, the Norway national contemporary dance troupe, to follow a choreographer’s thought to its essence, wherever that leads. This capacity was also on display last year at the Centre Pompidou with Bouchra Ouizgen’s Jerada during the Festival d’automne 2018. But now that I’ve sat back and pondered, I think that Soufflette’s success was François Chaignaud alone, coming into his own, his ability to distill an essence. That there is an essence isn’t easy for me to admit – until Soufflette, I’d never believed “camp” had an esthetic content. I do now. To the Stonewall prequel. Back when one could be a “notorious homosexual”, my eldest brother was. In those days, a favorite Saturday night amusement of the Columbus, Ohio, police was to go to a gay bar and beat the shit out of a patron or two, enjoy a little sweaty-palmed fear, maybe exact a blowjob on the sly. After a stint in the infantry in Vietnam, this customary amusement had come to seem unacceptable to my brother. Also, Steve had become what we used to call “nervous”, up-stress on ner and a bit explosive. So, feeling he was both notoriously homosexual and too learned in sudden violence, Steve was more willing to complain. So, he had asked me to write angry letters about these police balls to everybody we could think of; in fact we’d started a little campaign. The dear fellow! He could hardly write a shopping list. That little failing, along with never, ever, being too drunk to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2019 at The Best American Poetry